Sarah Austin, operating director of Page Personnel Secretarial & Business Support, spoke to Jeremy and Natasha about their most recent employment law seminar, hosted in one of our London offices and attended by around 90 of our clients on 24 April 2013.
1. What were the main topics covered in the seminar?
Jeremy Nixon (JN): Over recent years, many of the situations we advise on involve issues of poor performance, work related stress and grievances. We used an interactive case study format to highlight some of the legal and commercial issues which such matters give rise to.
We also provided an update on the government’s Employment Law Review and looked at some recent cases of interest.
2. Why do you think events like this are so important?
JN: In a digital age, it’s still good to have face-to-face interaction with people working in the employment law and HR space. Delegates also seem to get a great deal of value from listening to what people working in the same field have to say about the issues they face.
Natasha Twaits (NT): It’s also important to keep up to date with industry news. Employment law changes so frequently and this is a great opportunity to discuss the most recent changes and how these impact on different businesses.
3. What do you think it is about Thrings that gives you such a strong reputation and what makes you different from other firms?
JN: Thrings is a relatively new name in London having only been established in 2007 when West Country firm Thring Townsend merged with Lee & Pembertons to form Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons.
In 2011 we bowed to the inevitable and just became Thrings!
Most clients we act for in London are personal connections of the team or our colleagues. We are also recommended by former clients and contacts in larger City practices who only handle the very biggest cases.
We work hard with clients to make sure that as well as advising them on the letter of the law we also come up with practical solutions to their problems. If the first suggestion we make to a client doesn’t meet their needs, we will continue to refine the solution until it does.
NT: Yes, we really strive to provide creative solutions to our clients’ problems. I work closely with Jeremy as the London employment partner to ensure he’s always aware of what’s happening in each case we handle.
4. How long have you been partnering with Page Personnel on the seminars? How successful have they been?
JN: We’ve been conducting the seminars a few times a year for five years now and they’ve been very successful. They’re always well attended and from the feedback we get they’re always well received. The latest seminar had around 90 attendees which is great news.
5. Today featured a new element; you had an interactive workshop, tell us why.
JN: We feel it’s really important to innovate and we have evolved the seminars based on the feedback we’ve had in the past. This time we wanted to really involve the audience, and found that by using a workshop format the attendees didn’t have as many questions at the end.
6. How long have you been practising law and why specialise in employment?
JN: Terrifying though it is, I’ve been practising employment law for almost 20 years now; I must be due a sabbatical!
NT: And I’ve been practicing law for just under four years now.
JN: Natasha and I both attended the University of East Anglia which has a very strong reputation in employment law and industrial law. I did an elective in that area and also an employment seat when I was a trainee. After all of that, specialising in employment was almost inevitable!
NT: There’s also a human interest in employment law because instead of dealing with spreadsheets, you’re dealing with people and I think that makes it much more interesting.
7. What are the biggest challenges faced by employers in relation to employment law?
JN: The fact that employment law changes so frequently makes it a challenge, so it’s really important to stay abreast and on top of developments and changes. Also, employees’ expectations can be so high. Severance cases are a good example of this; an employee might think that they should be paid a fortune, say a year’s wage, when the employer can only afford three months’ pay in a depressed economy. Managing expectations is key.
8. What are the key things employers underestimate contractually that can come back to haunt them?
JN: I would say the key thing to do is make sure any confidential information is properly protected in documentation. Most businesses, especially in London, are in the technology, finance or media sector which rely heavily on personal contacts and confidential information. If this is lost when staff leave, the effects can be devastating but with the right contracts in place the worst damage can be avoided.
For more information on Thrings, please contact Jeremy or Natasha, or visit www.thrings.com.
Partner – Employment Team
Direct dial: +44 (0)20 7766 5607
Direct dial: +44 (0)20 7766 5608